All ABA therapy jobs focus on delivering high-quality behavior analysis services to children and adults diagnosed with behavioral and developmental challenges.
Responsibilities and salaries vary based on education and certification level. BCBAs typically earn the highest salaries, while BCaBAs and RBTs earn respectively less.
BCBAs working in large cities report earning over $100,000 per year, while the average BCBA in the U.S. earns about $67,000 per year. BCaBAs earn an average of $49,000 per year, and RBTs report average earnings of slightly under $34,000 per year.
All types of certified behavior analysts work together in many different settings. ABA therapy provider jobs are found in schools, hospitals, clinics, homes, community organizations, and private practices. Your certification level, place of employment, and geographic location all impact your expected salary.
What to Expect in an ABA Therapy Provider Job
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that is based on the science of learning and behavior. Behavior analysis allows professionals to understand how behavior works, how it is impacted by the environment, and how new learning takes place.
Through ABA therapy, practitioners help their clients increase their language and communication skills; improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics; and decrease problematic behaviors that interfere with everyday life and learning.
ABA therapy is a person-centered approach to treatment. Programs are adapted to meet the unique needs of each client in order to increase positive outcomes. Interventions can be delivered in homes, schools, and out in the community.
ABA therapy can be given on a one-on-one basis or in groups. No matter how the interventions are delivered, they are focused on teaching skills that are useful in the clients’ everyday lives.
Types of ABA Therapy Jobs
ABA therapists have the opportunity to work in many different job settings. Behavior therapists are trained to work with children and adults with a range of developmental disorders. One of the most commonly applied uses of ABA therapy is for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The skills of an ABA therapist are frequently applied in the following positions:
- Special education teacher
- Child social worker
- Occupational therapist
- Art therapist
- Rehabilitation therapists
- Speech-language pathologists
- Developmental psychologist
- Board certified behavior analyst
The above positions are employed in a variety of settings, including the following:
- Mental health clinics
- Private practice
- Government organizations
- Rehabilitation clinics
- Community and nonprofit organizations
Depending on your position, there are different requirements that must be met in order to become certified. Many professionals of related fields, such as teachers and counselors, pursue additional certification in the field of ABA in order to enhance their skillset. Each type of professional license requires its own set of regulations to be fulfilled in addition to any ABA certificates being pursued.
ABA Certification Levels
For individuals interested in a career in ABA therapy, there are multiple certification levels to achieve. Each certification gives individuals the opportunity to provide direct clinical services to clients who could benefit from behavior analysis and intervention. The certifications vary in their eligibility requirements and the scope of practice available once certified.
The types of ABA certifications awarded by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) are:
- Board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). This is a graduate-level certificate that trains students in behavior analysis and prepares them to work as independent professionals once certified.
- Board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA). This certification is available to students with a bachelor’s degree who wish to become certified in the field of behavior analysis. Although they can supervise RBTs, BCaBAs must always work under the close supervision of a BCBA.
- Registered behavior technician (RBT). RBTs are paraprofessionals with a minimum of a high school diploma. They are trained to deliver ABA interventions and are always supervised by a BCBA or BCaBA.
An additional designation, board certified behavior analyst – doctoral (BCBA-D) is also available for BCBAs with doctoral-level training. However, the certification process and privileges for a BCBA-D are the same as for a BCBA.
Average ABA Salary
ABA salaries vary the most based on which certification level you have. BCBAs are the most common type of behavior therapist, and with the highest level of certification, they are the highest paid. ABA salaries are greatly affected by the professional’s level of education and years of experience.
The average ABA salary in the U.S. is $47,357, or just over $20 per hour. This number includes the average of all levels of behavior therapist salaries. Average ABA therapy salaries broken down by certification level are as follows:
- BCBA: $67,210 per year, or $45.84 per hour
- BCaBA: $49,000 per year, or $23.42 per hour
- RBT: $33,761 per year, or $16.34 per hour
ABA Salaries by City & State
ABA salaries are also affected by geographic location. In general, large cities and metropolitan areas are likely to pay more than more remote locations. These are the highest paying cities for BCBAs, based on May 2020 data from Indeed:
- Brooklyn, NY: $124,162 per year
- Lowell, MA: $95,218 per year
- San Jose, CA: $85,877 per year
- Las Vegas, NV: $81,758 per year
- Orlando, FL: $81,714 per year
- Novi, MI: $79,775 per year
- Beverly, MA: $72,617 per year
- Houston, TX: $70,657 per year
Some states, on average, pay more for behavior therapists than others. BCBAs make the most in these states:
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
Top ABA Companies to Work For
Top ABA companies are popular to work for because they compensate their employees well, encourage continuing education and professional development, support creative thinking, and allow employees to manage their own caseloads.
These are top companies for ABA therapists, based on employee reviews left on Indeed:
- Advanced Autism Services
- Above and Beyond Learning Group
- Gentle Care Therapy
- Proud Moments
- Kids and Family
- Golden Care Therapy
- Build ‘n Care
- Applied Behavior Analysis Consultation and Services, LLC
- All Kids First
- ABA Therapy
- Innovate Behavior Options
- Positive Behavior Supports Corporation
- Applied Behavioral Mental Health Counseling
ABA Therapy Job Trends & Growth
There is currently a positive outlook for job growth in the field of ABA therapy. The demand for behavior therapists continues to grow every year. With the number of autism diagnoses increasing each year due to broader diagnostic definitions and testing, the need for high-quality treatment options also increases.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 22% job growth rate by 2028 for counselors working with behavioral disorders. Employment growth is expected, as the number of people seeking mental and behavioral health services increases across the country. The BLS predicts that job prospects will be particularly strong for behavioral disorder counselors with bachelor’s and graduate degrees.
The BLS also estimates that job prospects will increase for therapists working in rural areas and in communities that have been traditionally underserved by mental health professionals.
If you are considering a career in ABA therapy, now is a good time to join the field. Educational and professional opportunities are available across the country.
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Salary for Certification: BACB Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). (May 2020). PayScale.
The Best Careers in ABA Therapy. (September 2018). The Houston Chronical.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. (April 2020). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.